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Essential Packing List For Backpacking in Australia

Backpacking in Australia isn’t just a journey; it’s an immersion into a land of contrasts, where ancient traditions meet modern marvels and untamed wilderness melds with cosmopolitan cities.

From the iconic red rocks of Uluru to the turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef, every step taken on this continent is a testament to its diverse landscapes and rich cultural tapestry.

Whether traversing the rugged bushland trails or mingling with locals in bustling urban hubs, backpacking in Australia promises an unforgettable odyssey filled with discovery, camaraderie, and the endless allure of the unknown.

Australia has long been a dream destination, espeically for British backpackers, who often use a gap year to chase the sun and surf they grew up watching on Home and Away and Neighbours. It’s no surprise that the so-called Land Down Under continues to captivate the hearts of young adventurers, especially among Gen Z and millennials.

It’s an undiscovered world for young people looking to spread their wings and experience something new for themselves. 

With its stunning landscapes, vibrant cities, and unique wildlife, Australia was visited by more than 700,000 Britons pre-pandemic, many of them young backpackers.

Packing List For Backpacking in Australia

However, navigating the country’s diverse environments requires careful packing preparation to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

It isn’t all about throwing a few bits in a rucksack and hoping for the best; there are some considerations to take that will either make or break your trip to Australia.

Sun Protection

Australia is renowned for its scorching sun, and protecting yourself from harmful UV rays is essential. According to research from the World Cancer Research Fund, the country experiences some of the highest levels of melanoma in the world, doubtless brought on by exposure to that beaming sun.

Therefore, sun protection should be high on your packing list. Try looking for a high-SPF sunscreen that offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Remember, go for a water-resistant formula to withstand sweat and water activities. Brands like Neutrogena and Banana Boat offer reliable sunscreens tailored to outdoor enthusiasts.

It’s imperative to protect your eyes from harsh glare and UV radiation with sunglasses that meet Australian standards. Australia is the only country with mandatory standards on sunglasses, ensuring they provide adequate UV protection, which seems sensible given the brightness of the sun there.

Oakley sunglasses, renowned for their innovative lens technology, offer features like Prizm polarized lenses for superior clarity and UV protection. Models such as Frogskins and Holbrook are usually designed for sports, meaning they’ll be suitable not only for protection but also for those days when you can get out on the water or go walkabout in the outback.

Maybe consider some that are wrap-around, giving more protection to your eyes than a standard pair.

Finish your sun protection packing with a wide-brimmed hat that provides extra coverage for your face, neck, and ears, shielding them from direct sunlight.

Tilley Endurables offers functional hats designed for outdoor activities, featuring UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) fabric for added sun protection.


Australia’s climate varies significantly from region to region, ranging from tropical rainforests to arid deserts. Packing versatile clothing ensures you’re prepared for changing weather conditions.

Of course, you only have a single backpack, so it isn’t possible to pack everything you might need. However, there are some tips that can help you maximise your packing space.

Try to choose lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen for the hot and humid climate. Brands like Patagonia and Columbia offer moisture-wicking clothing designed to keep you cool and comfortable in the heat.

Be aware you may occasionally need layers – be prepared for temperature fluctuations, but go for a lightweight sweater or a jacket that can easily be added or removed as needed. Merino wool garments, such as those from Icebreaker, are ideal for layering as they provide warmth without bulk and have moisture-wicking properties.

Of course, don’t forget to pack swimwear for beach days and water activities. Otherwise, you’ll be watching on enviously as your friends get to have fun. Look for quick-drying and durable swimsuits from reputable brands like Speedo or Rip Curl, designed to withstand saltwater and chlorine.


Exploring Australia’s rugged landscapes requires sturdy and comfortable footwear, and your travel shoes are a massive part of enjoying your time in Australia – get it wrong and you’re going to struggle. From bushwalks to beachcombing, you must ensure you have the right shoes for every adventure. There are three types that you might need, with the first being hiking boots.

Much of the backpacking experience is you on your feet, walking to places and exploring. With that in mind, invest in a pair of hiking shoes or boots with good ankle support and grip for tackling trails and rugged terrain. Brands like Salomon offer durable and reliable hiking footwear designed for outdoor exploration – their Cross Hike 2 Mid GTX are lightweight and have reliable waterproofing.

Do remember to pack lightweight and breathable sandals or flip-flops for casual outings and beach days. One brand really stands out in this field – Birkenstock are popular choice known for its comfort and durability. 

You may also need to consider something for urban exploration and everyday wear. It’s tough to recommend a specific trainer, as everyone will have their favourites, but something with cushioned soles and breathable mesh uppers is best for maximum comfort.

Nike, Adidas, New Balance and Reebok all have a got reputation when it comes to everyday trainers.

Australia Travel

Backpacking in Australia is not merely a journey from point A to B. From the rugged beauty of the landscapes to the warmth of its people, this vast continent offers a tapestry of experiences waiting to be unravelled by those with a sense of curiosity and a spirit of exploration.

So, as the backpack is hoisted once more and the horizon beckons with promises of new adventures, one can’t help but feel grateful for the privilege of traversing this extraordinary land down under. Until the next trail is blazed, Australia remains etched in the hearts of those who dare to wander its timeless paths.

To get you inspired for backpacking in Australia have a look at the 30 best books about Australia to read.

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